Oskaloosa hopes for much better things in the 2013 season.
That quest begins Friday night when the Indians, who were 2-7 a year ago, kicks off the campaign against Indianola (6-5) at Lacey Stadium.
The two teams opposed each other in last year with Indianola coming away with a 35-25 victory.
Oskaloosa will be under the guidance of longtime assistant Mike Sterner and he is anticipating more success on the gridiron.
“We have good experience returning along the offensive line and good team speed,” he said.
Indianola will be a good test for Oskaloosa as the Class 4A Indians return four starters on the offensive line, led by 6-foot-3, 310-pound senior Keegan Render. Also back along the offensive line are Kieran Mort, Luke Paskorz and TJ Wimmer.
Sterner is impressed with the ability of Indianola’s offensive line.
“Indianola’s offensive line will be a force to reckon with,” Sterner said. “They continued to grow as a team last year as they got into their district play, so they will have improved as well. This will be a great season opener for us. It will be a hard-fought battle. We expect their best as we invite them to our home Friday night.”
Running back Aaron Johnson and receiver Austin Dimmer are expected to be the offensive leaders for Indianola. A year ago against Oskaloosa, Johnson rushed for 152 yards while Dimmer caught four passes for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
For the season, Johnson ran for 309 yards and two touchdowns while Dittmer had 27 receptions for 466 yards and four scores.
Oskaloosa could provide a stiff test for Indianola’s defense as leading rushers Jared Pace, Andrew Landgrebe and Nate VanVeldhuizen all return.
Pace had 590 yards on ground and three touchdowns while Landgrebe, who had 182 yards and three touchdowns in the Old Shoe Game last Friday, rushed for 342 yards and VanVeldhuizen had 472 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.
With temperatures expected to be in the mid 90s on Friday night, the heat could play a major factor in determining the outcome of the game.
“Our team has not been affected by the heat” Sterner said. “Our kids are hydrating well and focused on being our best.
“We have adjusted our practice times to get out of the sun and heat, and moved our practices to later which also gets us ready to play at the same time as actual game time.”
After practicing for the past couple of weeks, teams are ready to hit other players beside their teammates.
“Our kids have passion and enthusiasm to work for their team and be their best,” Sterner said. “We have worked extremely hard this summer and are motivated by the lack of success we experienced last year. They are ready to show their best.”